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Songs as life savers

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Songs as life savers. Let’s talk about music. Now, when someone declares: “This is the best song in the history of the world”, you’d think they’d mean it. But as my long-suffering children will tell you, this “Best Ever” title is actually owned by many songs. It depends on the where, when, occasion, mood. Hell, it may even depend on the weather.

Songs as life savers. Let’s talk about music. Now, when someone declares: “This is the best song in the history of the world”, you’d think they’d mean it. But as my long-suffering children will tell you, this “Best Ever” title is actually owned by many songs.

It depends on the where, when, occasion, mood. Hell, it may even depend on the weather.

When you’re standing on top of Table Mountain, looking down on Cape Town, it’s entirely natural you’d start belting out U2’s Where the streets have no name. Naturally.

But when barrelling down a river, it might be Carly Simon.

In no order, my “best song ever”:

l Sometimes – James

l December African Rain –  Juluka

l Tougher than the rest – Bruce Springsteen

l The Crossing – by Juluka

l At the dark end of the street –  Andrew Strong, from The Commitments

l Inbetween Days – The Cure

l Meisie sonder sokkies – David Kramer

l Beds are burning – Midnight Oil

What’s important, here, is not these songs in particular – they’re just mine. What’s essential, instead, is the role these songs play, for me.

Each song is the “best ever” accompaniment to different moments.

In the order above: having a beer with friends; sunset; when determined; when saying goodbye; when feeling courageous; when driving a Land Rover through Morocco; when falling in love with my baby girl for the first time; and when feeling rampant, capable of conquering anything…

Then there are times when songs are not just accompaniment, but life-savers.

Two spring to mind.

The first is Bridge over troubled waters by Simon & Garfunkel, but sung by Johnny Cash.

That’s not music, that’s a stout wooden crutch, hewn of the toughest timber, strong enough to lean my whole weight on, “when I’m weary…”

And the second is probably my actual “best song in the history of the world”. OK, sometimes.

Staan my by – Radio Kalahari Orkes. This is not a song, it’s a person, a friend.

Here are the words. (Google them, then Google Translate them, do what you must. They’re worth it.)

O die winter wind

Wat oor ons wêreld waai

En die donker stêr

Wat in die hemel draai

En ’n teken langs die pad

Wat vorentoe bedui

Hier’s die einde van jou drome

Hier kom jy nooit verby

En jy besef terdee

Jou laaste kans verdwyn

Want jou gees is moeg

En jou liggaam pyn

Dan kom ek vir jou haal

Dan kom ek vir jou sê

My vriend, o my vriend

Ons moet nooit gaan lê

Tot die bitter end

Tot die son uitbrand

Tot die see opdroog

Anderkant die verste anderkant

Al staan ek alleen

Sal ek nooit gaan lê

Ek sal steeds hier staan

Vir jou die waarheid sê

Staan my by, my bra,

staan my by, my bra

Skouer aan skouer

Sy aan sy

Hier kom ek vir jou haal

Hier kom ek vir jou sê

Ek sê nee, nee, nee

Ons sal nooit gaan lê

Written by Murray Williams You are reading Songs as life savers articles

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